Online and mobile payments startup Stripe is adding international currencies to its seller’s toolkit. The mobile developers and online retailers that rely on Stripe to process their payments can now sell their wares in 130 local currencies around the world – from the Chinese yuan to the Turkish lira.
That doesn’t mean Stripe is setting up its payments operation in 130 different countries – though given the startup’s rapid growth and recent $80 million funding round, that’s not outside the realm of possibility. It’s still only offering its transactions platform to companies in North America and Europe, but according to Stripe co-founder and president John Collison, many of those companies are doing a lot of business outside of their home countries’ borders.
The new currency program not only lets sellers list their services and goods in their buyers’ native currencies, but it also allows those buyers to avoid the steep transaction fees that usually accompany a credit card payment in a foreign denomination. Stripe will charge its usual transaction rates to sellers (2.9 percent plus $0.30 on each transaction, or custom pricing for customers selling in bulk), but it will add an additional 2 percent processing fee for each foreign currency transaction.
In case you’re wondering, one of those 130 currencies isn’t Bitcoin. But Collison said Bitcoin acceptance isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Right now, Stripe is focused solely on credit cards because they are the most common payment method in its primary markets, the U.S. and U.K. But as the company gains customers in new markets where credit cards aren’t as widespread, Stripe will open up to new payment methods, Collison said: “I won’t comment specifically on our plans, but I will say we plan to move beyond credit cards,” Collison said.
That could mean Bitcoin, but as Collison pointed out there isn’t much demand from typical online or mobile sellers to accept the virtual currency. Stripe could start working with cash proxy services that fund accounts directly from cash deposits or a bank account, though considering eBay just bought Stripe’s biggest competitor Braintree, working with PayPal might not be likely.
Collison also suggested Stripe might work with the big financial networks that are growing up around mobile carriers in emerging markets. Safaricom and Vodacom have become the largest de facto banks in East Africa with their M-Pesa service, which their customers use to deposit, withdraw and make payments with basic 2G phones.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated Stripe charges a flat rate for bulk transactions. Stripe offers custom discounts for sellers that process more than $80,000 in transactions each month, but it’s not a flat rate.